Teen Breathe

Studying at home: finding space in a small space

Your bedroom is a great place to kick back, hang out and crash out. But when you’re stuck in the same room all day (and doing schoolwork there too), it might feel harder to relax. And carving out your own territory is even trickier during lockdown when there’s less space to go around, more people in the house and textbooks piling up on the floor. So, we’ve come up with some fun and practical ideas for a room and mind makeover this Easter holiday, so you can create more headspace. 

Have a spring clean

Tidying your room might be the last thing you want to hear right now, but if you want to create more space, you’ll need to kick the clutter. Start with a blank canvas and you’ll know exactly how much room you have to play with. Next, embrace as storage areas those weird spaces above the wardrobe, under your bed or behind the curtains and suck the life out of your clothes with vacuum bags – you can fit a whole wardrobe into a suitcase. Then think vertically. Can you add hooks to the walls or ceiling to hang stuff up? You could create wall art with everyday items such as jewellery, a pencil case or even a hat.

Get in the zone

It’s really important to shut the door on your schoolwork at the end of each day – just as you did when you left the classroom. After all, it can be hard to take 10 if you can see tomorrow’s geography project on your bedside table. Time to try some zoning. This trendy interior design term doesn’t refer to zoning out – but rather zoning in and separating your room into distinct areas according to their purpose. If you can rope mum and dad in, ask them to divide the room into sections using curtains, screens or shelves so you can hide away your work space, preferably as far from your bed as possible. Then create a chill-out zone with comfy cushions and rugs and raid the Christmas decorations for fairy lights so you’re good to glow.

Create a study nook

When it comes to school time you’ll want as few distractions as possible, so have a dedicated space for working. Move games and gaming consoles away, and have shelving nearby so your textbooks are within easy reach. If possible, place your desk in front of a window, or where you can get the most natural light – and a view outdoors. Choose brighter lights, around 60 watts, for your desk area (and softer lights for other areas). A collapsible chair or desk is a great way to hide away your bedroom ‘classroom’ at the end of the day.

Desk design

Clutter can play havoc with concentration so a clean and clear desk will help you fly through lessons. Just as you have different folders and files on your computer desktop, have a crafting session and make your own desk organisers. Jars and old tins can be painted and pepped up for pen holders (get help to file down the sharp edges), and cereal boxes cut to size for drawer organisers. Cover cardboard boxes in wallpaper or magazine cuttings to create desk caddies and use fabric shoe holders as stationery pockets.

Create a worry wall

A pinboard is perfect for notes and reminders, but it’s also a great way to jot down your feelings. Every time a worry comes up, scribble it out and place it on your wall. This can help you to order your thoughts, solve problems and take a step back from them. You can also personalise your pin-ups with glitter and stickers, and add cut outs of favourite magazine articles, postcards, and photos of family and friends. Every time you look up, you’ll get a little boost.

Take a break

Timetables might seem as dull as dishwater – but not if they focus on mini-breaks. On a normal day, you might be walking to and from the classroom, chatting to your pals and grabbing a snack at break, so make sure you add these to your home schedules. These ‘waking rests’ help motivate, improve creativity and prevent fatigue. Differentiate the weekdays and weekends by setting your alarm for a lie-in, always dress for school (create your own uniform) or designate Saturday as a pyjama day.

Slumber schedule

It can be hard to switch off at night when your mind and bedroom are full of the day’s events. Try to turn off screens an hour before bed as bright light can boost a hormone called serotonin, which makes you more wakeful. You can also try switching off your body, one part at a time, with a bedtime body scan. Lie down and bring your attention to your breathing. Breathe in for three counts and out for four counts. Notice where your body makes contact with the bed and focus on each part of your body one at a time starting with your head, and moving down your neck, shoulders, arms and hands all the way until you reach your feet – though hopefully by that time you’ll have already fallen asleep!

Words: Alice Whitehead

Illustration: Gigi Rosa via Shutterstock

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